Genetic testing and analysis has become as easy as placing an order online. Buy a kit, send back your saliva, and you’ll get a report telling you everything from your ancestry to disease detection.
But BC alum Kian Sadeghi ‘18 believes that there is a whole lot more to the story of DNA than what’s being told. That’s why he has launched a new genomics company called Nucleus to provide more detailed genetic information for consumers.
“DNA is not destiny, it’s a best guess. It’s not perfect, and DNA will always just be one piece of the puzzle, but I believe my company Nucleus can offer genetic analysis of greater breadth and depth,” data, Kian says, “that could lead to advancements across medicine and science.”
Kian first became fascinated with the field of genetics, in particular molecular biology, while in Middle School at BC. In 10th grade, his Science Research and Design class welcomed a guest speaker who described the potential of CRISPR, a new technology that can be used to edit genes, and Kian was hooked.
“I was just like, ‘Woah.’ You can engineer something that’s one-millionth your size? I became obsessed.”
This new passion took him, and his SRD faculty adviser Essy Levy Sefchovich, to a Brooklyn community lab called Genspace where he was the youngest and only teenager in a course that allowed hands-on experiments with CRISPR. Kian’s experience in the lab was even featured in The Wall Street Journal.
As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Kian combined his love for genetics with a passion for computer science to study Computational Biology, gaining skills that have helped him navigate working with both coders and scientists. But Kian says his favorite part is that he gets to play around not with computer code, but the code of life.
“In biology, you can’t really apply the scrappiness of computer science, and I never thought I could apply that do-it-yourself spirit to genetics, but there’s something about the iterative ability that computers bring to this work that’s just amazing.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kian took a leave of absence from Penn to work fulltime on developing Nucleus. He was accepted into Z Fellows, a just-launched program that fast tracks promising tech founders into the world of Silicon Valley, selecting only 10 fellows per cohort. There, Kian received mentorship from some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, including the founders of DoorDash and Netflix.
From the lab in Lincoln Place to now having raised $300,000 from early investors for his company, Kian says he’s so excited for the potential his new endeavor holds.
“What will the world look like where everyone can choose to have their DNA profile available to them on their phone? Platforms are going to allow for a healthcare revolution and a societal revolution through precision medicine. This information can inform and really save lives.”